A Frugal Safety Net: My Parents

Now hear me out! My frugal safety net includes my parents for reasons other than them paying any bills of mine. My parents haven’t handed me cash in over two weeks, so I’m not talking about cash assistance! I’m just kidding. I don’t remember the last time my parents handed me money, (except as a wedding gift). 

My parents aren’t rich. My mom retired as a teacher, and my stepdad is semi-retired with a part time job at an outdoor recreation merchandise store. They have, however, taught me everything I need to know about frugality and repurposing items to avoid spending money every time I need or want something. 

They’ve been an example to me, a support, and have helped me out in ways that are starkly and covertly financial. Their help, thoughtfulness, and generosity are part of why we are able to pay down debt so rapidly, and save the amount we do. No matter how independent I think I am at 32 years old, my parents are my frugal safety net. 

Here’s Why:

Pre-College

My mom sacrificed time and energy, as well as gas money and membership dues, carting me around to various locations. After school activities, tournaments, award programs, and camps all look mighty fine on a scholarship application. 

Before even being admitted to college, my mom scraped together any extra cash and made sure I was fully stocked with stamps, envelopes, our family computer, and ink for the printer. This can run a pretty penny. Because of these supplies at home, I was able to apply for over 100 college scholarships and ended up getting my four-year degree for free. 

College

In college, I lived on campus and attended a university in my hometown. (Hook ‘em!) Since I didn’t have a car, she dutifully picked me up most Fridays at the dorms, so I could go home and wash clothes. 

My dad gifted me a clunker my Sophomore year of college. It was ugly, but it ran, and I drove it for 3 more years. 

I lived at home for free my Sophomore and Senior year of college, and my mom helped me pay a month’s apartment rent during Junior year. 

Anytime I wanted a meal, or my cupboard was bare, I would swing by the parental’s and chow down. Oftentimes I was sent back to wherever I was living at the time with a few grocery bags of food. 

Post-College

I lived on my own off-and-on in the years after college, but I moved back in to my parents’ house at least twice. The age I permanently moved out, was (gulp) 27. 

While staying with my parents, I sporadically paid rent as I tried to get my shit together. As a side note, I was in full blown alcoholism up to age 25, and they tolerated me, while blustering at me to see the light. Without them, I don’t know how I would’ve ever gotten sober. 

Adulting

Since 27, I began dating a nice gentleman, we moved into an apartment together, got married, and bought a house. 

Has the help stopped? Nah! 

Around the time my husband and I bought our house, my parents were going through a deep purging and downsizing of their home. My mom had retired at this point, they’d sold their home, and purchased a mobile home. 

I was gifted lawn tools, home decor, holiday decorations, small furnishings, etc. My parents came over to help us move our furniture, hang pictures, install shelves, and much more. 

When planning my Celebration of Marriage BBQ (we were married at the Justice of the Peace), my mom altered my dress, lent me a small tent and large tables to serve food on, and she even sewed some decorations for us. 

This Fascinating Adventure 

“A Frugal Safety Net: My Parents”

Image of two windows covered in red and blue hangings. The hangings are hand-sewn triangles with various checkered patterns. Below the hangings is a table with flowers, a lantern, and a chalkboard displaying where to put cards and gifts.
See these window hangings? Hand-sewn by my dearest mother, in line with our Country BBQ theme.

When I mused I’d like to (finally) learn how to sew myself, as she had been trying to teach me for years, she showed up at my house with a second-hand sewing machine, a tub of fabric, thread, scissors, etc. 

Just the other day she was hanging out at my house and we needed a pencil sharpener. I realized I do not have one. Out came the pocket knife (which she, in fact, gave me at some point in the past). I sharpened the pencil, vaguely filing away in my brain to pick up a pencil sharpener the next time I was at the store. 

What text did I receive today? “Found extra pencil sharpener here.” She found a spare one at her house and plans to bring it over next time. 

No Man is an Island

My parents are awesome in ways that are not captured here, in my rough sketch of all the ways they help me. They are kind, strong, and hard-working. Apart from Mr. TFA, my mom is truly my best friend. Words can’t explain what phenomenal people my parents are.

I am quite successful in my chosen profession. Though I am the one who shows up and works my buns off every day, I would not be where I am, nor who I am without these people. 

With a well-placed joke at the opening of this post, I mentioned my parents haven’t handed me cash in a long, long time. Probably since I was a teenager. However, if I were ever in a financial jam, I’m sure they’d help me out. As they always have.

More than anything though, they have taken care of many micro-financial concerns that have come up, so I didn’t have to. They do this, simply because that makes it one less thing for me to do. My husband and I rarely buy things (other than food, etc.), as my mom always seems to have a spare something, or picks up a thing she thinks I might need at a garage sale. 

I don’t ask for anything, she just does it. I’m extremely grateful, and am well aware of how much money she is saving me. Beyond any tangible things my parents actually give me, there is knowledge that if I ever need anything, they are there. Period. This is the frugal safety net I speak of, and it is priceless. 

Do you have a community that helps you out? Tell me about it in the comments below!

5 Comments on “A Frugal Safety Net: My Parents

  1. Pingback: A Frugal Safety Net: My Parents ⋆ Camp FIRE Finance

  2. I think this is a key component that is missing in a lot of the discussions on FI. I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago that highlighted two people – a Disney heiress and a politician, two women with vastly different backgrounds. The politician was making a lot of money as a lawyer, but as soon as she started making money, she started taking on more familial responsibilities, as there was nobody else that could. The discussions around FI are often all about bootstraps, but for some people, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps also means pulling everybody else up by their bootstraps, and there’s nobody there to help with the pulling.

  3. You are so right! Though my parents don’t pay for anything for me (and havent since I was in college, with the exception of a wedding gift, and then a “gift” when my grandma’s house got sold a few years back), they provide a whole bunch of other support for me now. Childcare 3 days a week, somewhere to hangout on the weekends. And, in my dad’s case, some rando stuff that he decides I “need”. Like a bandsaw. I dont do woodwork. Or a folding accordion door from the 80s that was “expensive” when he bought it. In the 80s.

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